NY health officials say recreational marijuana should be LEGAL

14 Julio, 2018, 08:54 | Author: Earnest Bishop
  • Report from NY health officials calls for pot legalization

NY state is now allowing anyone prescribed an opioid to request medical marijuana instead.

The report predicts that legalizing marijuana could reduce opioid dependency while eliminating criminal penalties that disproportionately impact minorities.

In a 74-page report, the Health Department laid out dozens of reasons the state should legalize the drug for recreational use, estimating it could generate up to $678 million in annual tax revenue and cut down on the disproportionate arrests of black and Hispanic users.

The report is notable for its full-throated adoption of arguments that have been put forth by legalization supporters for years.

It notes evidence supporting medical uses for marijuana, particularly its potential to help curb the opioid crisis. It suggests that the greatest risks associated with marijuana use are due to the legal status of the drug, which has led to "more than 800,000 arrests for marijuana possession" in NY state in 20 years.

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The study represents something of an about-face on marijuana policy for ny, which has lagged behind a number of its neighbors, including Vermont, Massachusetts and Canada on marijuana policy. The study's release, originally scheduled for the fall, was moved up after the governor's Democratic primary challenger, Cynthia Nixon, made legalization central to her campaign.

As of Tuesday, more than 62,000 people signed up for the state's medical marijuana program.

As recently as a year ago, Cuomo maintained he was opposed to marijuana legalization because he believed the plant was a "gateway drug" - a claim refuted by the new Department of Health report, which says that "the research community generally does not recognize the premise that marijuana leads to the use of other substances as a legitimate or plausible assertion". Were the state to legalize, that could translate into $677.7 million in taxes from the 10 percent of residents who already use it illegally - and likely some more. "In 2018, in a blue state like NY, marijuana shouldn't be an issue", Nixon said in an April campaign video. Federal Bureau of Investigation crime statistics show that each year there are almost 16 marijuana possession arrests for every 1,000 marijuana users in the state, putting NY in the middle of the pack on users' likelihood of getting arrested.

A move to legalize the drug state-wide would add weight to the cannabis industry's bid to operate freely nationwide - and would be something of a jackpot for NY.

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